Widening the scope of thermal cameras
Thermal imaging cameras are gaining popularity in South Africa, because the cost of these kinds of cameras are coming down, whilst the number of applications for these devices are going up.
Thermal imaging cameras capture images of the infra-red radiation (heat) being emitted by the body and objects around it to determine threats. The image produced by these cameras consists of either high contrast black and white images or a colour pallette with hotter areas represented in red, cooler areas appearing in blue and lukewarm areas in orange or yellow for instance.
These cameras have a number of advantages over conventional CCTV security cameras including being able to detect threats in extremely low light (or even complete darkness), and during unfavourable weather conditions like fog, dust, excessive glare from the sun, or in thick vegetation in the area being surveyed. In addition, thermal cameras provide a much clearer image in low light compared to conventional imaging solutions and have a considerably longer threat detection range when compared to optical surveillance cameras.
This makes thermal imaging cameras particularly appealing within the property security sector such as within housing- and golf estates, as well as businesses such as a car park or train station for instance where long perimeter fences are used.
“Despite an entry-level thermal imaging camera costing in the region of R30 000(US$3000), the overall return on investment comes across in the total cost of a company’s security solutions. This, as low cost thermal cameras can cover long distances of between 300 and 400 meters, whereas a company would need up to eight conventional surveillance cameras to cover the same area at an inferior image quality with devices that are more susceptible to a range of environmental factors and conditions,” says Roy Alves, Regional Business Development Manager for Axis Communications.
Looking at additional applications beyond surveillance
Just like CCTV cameras are now being used for more functions that go beyond crime prevention such as queue management within retail stores for example, thermal solutions are now also being employed for a range of additional functions.
Game rangers are using thermal imaging camera solutions to assist them in their attempts to catch rhino poachers, whilst thermal imaging can also be used as a safer method for screening patients for breast cancer instead of less comfortable methods that expose patients to radiation such as mammography.
A more pertinent case for use within Africa involves using thermal camera solutions to detect fevers within airport passengers for instance, which might be an indication that the person is infected with Ebola.
“Since thermal cameras look at people’s heat signatures, they are able to detect whether someone has a fever. This can be used to alert the authorities to someone who may have been infected with the Ebola virus at crucial junctures like airports, bus stations, and border crossings,” concludes Alves.
Improving Mines’ Health and Safety Strategies Through Thermal Imaging Cameras
In addition to security, thermal cameras can be used in various applications, for instance mine rescue teams can make use of handheld thermal cameras to locate trapped or injured miners in the absence of light, and more importantly in smokey environments. They can also be used to detect loose rocks after blasting to ensure that workers are safe from falling rock before entering an area.
Safety of workers and the expensive infrastructure is important – thermal cameras can also be used as an early warning system to detect fires, giving alerts to the operator when temperature increases before the incipient stage of fire.
Overheating of transformers and cable connections can also be monitored through the use of thermal cameras, and thus faulty connections can be located long before complete failure occurs.
”Our FLIR Thermography thermal cameras are also widely used for non-contact temperature measurement in applications such as process control and automation, health and safety and preventive maintenance. For instance, obtaining the exact temperature of molten metals, autoclaves and transformers, including monitoring equipment and machinery for overheating, and alerting operators of possible component failure, as well as being deployed at the turnstilles to detect hidden materials such as copper rods ”, explains Philip Smerkovitz, Managing Director of TeleEye South Africa.
TeleEye South Africa- Provides Remote Visual Solutions
TeleEye, South Africa, a division of the TeleEye Group provides remove visual solutions especifically for the financial, mining, property management, energy and telecommunications sector.
TeleEye SA offers its clients a comprehensive range of hi-tech video surveillance equipment for advanced remote video alarm verification, video management and surveillance applications.
“We are the African distributors for the TeleEye video surveillance equipment, FLIR thermal imaging equipment and REDWALL long-range detectors. We provide value-adding products for existing solutions and together with our systems integrators- we specify and design appropriate solutions for clients”, concludes Smerkovitz.